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~ THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF BIRDS ~
Lyrics

(Ian Anderson Solo Album)

SLOB front cover
(2000)

 

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The Secret Language Of Birds

The Little Flower Girl

Montserrat

Postcard Day

The Water Carrier

Set-Aside

A Better Moon

Sanctuary

The Jasmine Corridor

The Habanero Reel

Panama Freighter

The Secret Language Of Birds, PT. II

Boris Dancing

Circular Breathing

The Stormont Shuffle

This sparkling wine is all but empty. 
Too late for trains and no taxis. 
I know the feeling. Seems all too contrived.
There was no master plan, but the fact is:
you must stay with me and learn the secret language of birds. 

A tentative dawn about to be breaking 
on a Rousseau garden with monkeys in hiding. 
The truth of the matter, yet to be spoken 
in words on which everything, everything's riding.
Now stay with me and learn the secret language of birds 

Circled by swallows 
in a world for the weary.
Courted by warblers; wicked and eloquent trilling.

Lie in the stillness, window cracked open.
Extended moments, hours for the taking. 
Careless hair on the pillow, a bold brushstroke.
Painted first with a chorus, a chorus in waiting.
Stay with me and learn the secret language of birds.
Top of page
Promo back cover
The Little Flower Girl 
Down at the church the flower girl sits. Legs innocent apart.
I'll make the picture-puzzle fit to start your heart.
Painted sister stopped beside. A word upon her saintly lip.
Perhaps admonishing the child inside the open slip.

Well, I don't know where she might go when she runs home at night.
It's for the best: I wouldn't rest when I turned out the light. 
No little flower girl singing in my troubled dream --
just an old man's model in a pose from a magazine.
I have touched that face a dozen times before. And I have let my pencil run.
Laid down washes on a foreign shore, under a hot and foreign sun.
My best sable brushes drift the soft inside of her arm.
Her chin I tilt, her breasts I lift. I mean no harm.
I close the door. She is no more until the next appointed hour.
Northeastern light, push back the night: painted promises in store.
No little flower girl singing in my troubled dream --
just an old man's model in a pose from a magazine.
Down at the church my flower girl sits. Legs innocent apart.
I'll make the picture-puzzle fit to start your heart.
My golden sable brushes drift the soft inside of her arm. 
Her chin I tilt, her breasts I lift. I mean no harm.
I mean no harm. I mean ..... 
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Montserrat 
Fires on the mountain, and the dogs bark.
Crash of the ocean swelling: crickets in the dark.
And the temperature is rising. The village gets no sleep.
It's hardly surprising, given the hot company they keep.
Somebody's home in the ash-fall margins;
Somebody's life in the lost and found.
Breaking news from the hotel Vue Pointe.
Sinking feeling, sink another beer down.

Hey, Jimmy. What you doing here?
Looking up at the high cloud cover, so far and yet so near.
Flying in with the chopper. Lieutenant of the crown.
Tell the boys from that CNN, the good cops have come to town.
Angry island, no-one's listening. Shamrock villa, green to grey.
Down in the swamp iguanas glistening.
Toast tomorrow, if not, today.

In the shadow of the Soufrière under Chances Peak.
Did the earth move for you honey? Well, come back next week.
Queen of country forsaken you - now that is that.
See the Governor is leaving in a Sunday hat.

Angry island, no-one's listening. Shamrock villa, green to grey.
Down in the swamp iguanas glistening.
Toast tomorrow, if not, today.

Hey, Jimmy, what you doing here?
You a scientist? You a newsman? Or simply come to feel the fear?
And the temperature is rising. And we're in too deep.
There really is no point in disguising the hot company we keep. 
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Postcard Day 
My eyes are wide circles above cheek bones on fire:
pale hand gripping my pen.
Rounding up to the zero, adding infinite fractions,
letting nine become ten.
Two pink doves strut the shingles
picking crumbs from the breakfast I saved 
for you dear. And I wish you were here
on this postcard day.

Focus on the fine indeterminate line
where the sky meets the sea.
Desperate midweek words, banal and absurd
freely flow out of me.
Oh, I may be a hostage to summer
but I'm a hostage, not a slave.
And I'm clear that I wish you were here
on this postcard day.

Precious cargo of flotsam: mixed memories on an ocean tide
swim madly with spice from the orient
on a mystery watery carpet ride.
But with the sun going down, the wind goes around;
blows them back out of mind.

My eyes are wide circles staring down past the point
of my restless pen.
While the ghosts of my youth all sworn to the truth,
call my name again.
Two brown legs don't make a summer.
But two brown arms couldn't keep me away.
Well, my dear, I wish you were here
on this postcard day.
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The Water Carrier 
Crystal fountain springing from the hill.
It irrigates your soul.You may drink your fill.
Water of life, carried high. 
One hand upon the gallon jar. Feel her fix my eye.

Every good traveller's for the taking.
All good money for the making. 
Seller's market: wet appeal.
Water carrier ---  let's make the deal.

Covered face and black pool eyes.
Between us, no words spoken: no words to the wise.
Here's to another time and a drink somewhere.
Plush on a Naïn carpet; on a café chair 

Every good traveller's for the taking.
All good money for the making. 
Seller's market: wet appeal.
Water carrier ---  let's make the deal.
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Set-Aside 
Hard black crows bobbing where once ran deep furrows.
Frazzled oak silhouetted in her ivy dress.
Winter sun catches dog fox through thin hedges:
throws his long shadow north to the emptiness.

Farmhouse in tatters; shuttered and battered.
Even lovers don't go there these last few years. 
Spider-web windows on set-aside heroes
standing lost in a landscape of tears.

Farmhouse in tatters; shuttered and battered.
Even lovers don't go there these last few years. 
Spider-web windows on set-aside heroes
standing lost in a landscape of tears.
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A Better Moon 
I see you better now, shaded in deeper blue.
Hardly needing to carry the find-your-way lamp
down to the river.
And tonight flies a better moon. 
Sad water buffalo lie fast near the shallows,
a splash revealing the fly-catching fishes.
Dark Gods silently watching.
And tonight flies a better moon.
I guess you've known lovers here, compliant in passion;
softly laid in the old reed bed, harshly lit in the noon sun.
And tonight flies a better moon.

Now cloaked in this milky light, new as the virgin dawn, 
shrouded sweetly in all kinds of mystery,
you turn, smile and then are gone.
And tonight flies a better moon.
And tonight flies a better moon. 
And tonight flies a better moon.
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Sanctuary  
Dear uncle sold her into, into the purest kind of slavery. 
Hood-eyed little middlemen profited from damaged goods, along the way.
Good angels brought her back to a last Nepal summer.
Debased, hollow-faced, a smile might become her.
Now she's cosied up, cosied up and comforted
in the warm flush of September.
Gone before winter.
Wondering as to might-have-beens.
Somebody's daughter in sanctuary, waiting.

Seen through softer cage of kindness, far and further still away.
From time-warp Victorian zoos
where staring ice cream gameboys play.
Big paws, worn claws and swishing tails.
More damaged goods in the market sales.
Too proud for anger, too late for hate: resigned in dignity.
Gone before winter.
Purring might-have-beens.
Somebody's kitten in sanctuary, waiting.

Gone before winter, wondering as to might-have-beens.
Somebody near you in sanctuary, waiting.
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The Jasmine Corridor 
In all my lives, I never knew anyone like you before.
Woke up one day, and swore I heard the sound of heaven knocking on my door.
And after all these years long passing,
time to reflect, no time for wasting. 
Walking down the jasmine corridor.
Reflecting echoes of quiet laughter.

In all my life, I was never better served than I was served by you.
And in my way, hope you agree I tried to serve you too.
Out on the headland I stepped once unsteady.
You there to catch me, I breathe more freely.
Hand in mine down the jasmine corridor.
Reflecting echoes of quiet laughter.

Through all my life, I chased flitting illusions at a faster pace.
Never stopped to think: the moment was for seizing, had myself to face.
You made my bed to lie in, stately.
Mad cats, grandchildren, here more often lately.
The final view from the jasmine corridor.
Reflecting echoes of quiet laughter. 
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The Habanero Reel 
Cool in the corner, tom cat sitting
on the edge of the yard; sand-flies flitting.
Orange order in a field of green.
Smothers me to smithereens.

Rum and cola, ice cubes crashing.
Jumping beans and brown eyes flashing.
Long hair swinging, tell me how d'you feel? 
Well, hot and fancy,  it's the habanero reel. 

Troubled skin? Pour oil upon it. 
She's fit to burn in her new Scotch Bonnet.
Spice up anybody's stew.
Frogs and goats and chickens too.

Rum and cola, ice cubes crashing.
Jumping beans and brown eyes flashing.
Long hair swinging, tell me how d'you feel? 
Well, hot and fancy,  it's the habanero reel. 

Barefoot in the sunshine.
Kicking empty beer cans down on a high tide line.
Big wave nearly float your dress away.
And I'm thinking that it's just another day:
just another day.

Feel that hot rush starts its tickle.
Sweat is rising, taste buds prickle
with ears of bat and eye of eagle.
It's just as well it's strictly legal.

Rum and cola, ice cubes crashing.
Jumping beans and brown eyes flashing.
Long hair swinging, tell me how d'you feel? 
Well, hot and fancy,  it's the habanero reel. 

Barefoot in the sunshine.
Kicking empty beer cans down on a high tide line.
Big wave nearly float your dress away.
And I'm thinking that it's just another day:
just another day.
Top of page
Panama Freighter 
Night close in on a shanty town.
Panama freighter wearing rusty brown.
But she sails tomorrow and she's homeward bound. 
Head up on a lumpy sea, on a lumpy sea.

I'm not the only lonely planet rider in this one horse town,
I'm thinking. And I won't over-rate or patronize you.
I know we're as different as chalk and cheese;
as black hole winters and salad days
and I wouldn't like your mother much anyway.
But it's not her I'm taking home with me,
not her I'm taking home with me.

Don't intend to dress you in silver threads
like some trophy in sublime seclusion.
Won't try to educate or civilize you.
Night close in on a shanty town.
Panama freighter wearing rusty brown.
Well she sails tomorrow and she's homeward bound
and you're bound to come home with me.
Bound to come home with me.
And you're bound to come home with me.
On the Panama freighter with me.
Top of page
The Secret Language Of Birds, PT. 2 
No buzz words, fuzzy fudge words,
so freeze those goalposts, don't take the admiral on board.
This Hardy's not for kissing....

Expression, no explosion,
or whispered promises in cliché or in rhyme.
Instead let's talk the secret language of birds.

Right time but the wrong idea.
Oh well, you're making it all sound just the same.
Try taking it up a key like that Nightingale
still over there in Berkeley Square.

Do we have problems of communication?
There's something I don't know and you can't explain it to me.
Let's talk the secret language of birds.

Step out of the circus now.
Oh, learn a new trick and make it stick.
Try taking it up a key like that Nightingale,
still over there in Berkeley Square

Finger tracing on misty window:
I'm reading loud and clear the salacious semaphore,
as you leave me standing at the station.
Give it to me ---  the big dawn chorus:
no whispered promises in cliché or in rhyme.
Let's talk the secret language of birds.

Right time but the wrong idea.
Well, you're making it all sound just the same.
Try taking it up a key like that Nightingale
still over there in Berkeley Square.

It's the right time but the wrong idea.
Oh well, you're making it all sound just the same.
Try taking it up a key like that Nightingale
still over there in Berkeley Square,
in Berkeley Square
in .....
Top of page
Boris Dancing (instrumental) 
Circular Breathing 
Pick up my wings and fly
into a Constable sky.
Look down on the world and try
to make you out on the distant ground.
Lonely toy in a lost toy-town.
Suspended in spiral sounds -- 
Sounds of circular breathing.

I'm a kite on a silver thread.
Daring lightning to strike me dead.
Harsh echoes of things you said
banished me to a thinner space 
with unholy ghosts of your bedroom face.
Hands cupped to my ears to place
the sound of circular breathing.

Matchbox cityscape below ---
I watch Lowry matchstick figures go.
Caught in the timeless flow of discreet silence.

See the Matchbox cityscape below.
I watch Lowry matchstick figures go.
Caught in the timeless ebb and flow of discreet silence.

Pick up my wings and fly
into a Constable sky.
Look down on the world and try
to make you out on the distant ground.
Lonely toy in a lost toy-town.
Suspended in spiral sounds --- 
Sounds of circular breathing.
Top of page
The Stormont Shuffle (instrumental) 
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All Lyrics: © Fuel2000/Roadrunner/Papillon Records, 2000 - All Rights Reserved.

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